Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.




Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Serious Injury to Pete's Hand

I do not know where to begin.

For those of you uncomfortable with discussions about serious injuries, please do not read any further!

My strong, supportive husband has sustained a serious injury to his left hand, specifically his finger. It was a wound so severe that the top digit of his middle finger required amputation.

I can hardly breath as I write this.

Ironically, he did NOT experience this accident at work where he is around heavy machinery all day long, he did it while he was at home. He was removing a ladder from inside his work van when he slipped while he was backing out. As he fell, he hooked his finger on a shelf inside his van. Thankfully, he was wearing gloves or the injury may have been worse.

This gets worse, so if you have a weak stomach please stop reading!

The children and I were not at home.

He removed his glove only to find the tip of his finger had detached, leaving an exposed bone. The detached portion of his finger was still in his glove. He cleaned the wound, wrapped it (and his finger tip) in a towel and called me. I was driving home from an appointment with the boys and not far away. I told him to call 911 but he refused and waited for me. Men!

He was unusually calm, in shock, I think, as we transported him to the nearest hospital. He was so calm about the wound that the hospital staff did not realize the extent and seriousness of the injury. I had to intervene.

He was seen immediately by a doctor and soon after an orthopedic specialist who arrived at Pete's bedside wearing galoshes. He had long hair and glasses and although he was an incredibly decent man he looked about 20 years old.

He explained that the finger was unsavable. He could remove the top portion of his finger bone, stitch it up and Pete could be on his way.

While Pete was ready to "get it done and over with" I was not.

Pete is a mechanic. Use of his hands is critical to his livelihood and ability to perform his job. I wanted another opinion and a Boston hand specialist to at least evaluate the wound and perform the surgery. The nurse agreed shaking her head vigorously up and down silently affirming my suggestion to Pete. After much hesitation he finally agreed.

It is now 6 pm. Both boys are hungry, upset and bouncing off the walls. I need to get them home. Pete needs to get to Boston.

The ambulance arrives to transport Pete to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, another teaching hospital of Harvard University. I am sad that I cannot accompany him but both children are visibly upset by this entire ordeal.

Pete rides off to Boston chit chatting with the ambulance staff since they have given him a rather strong pain medication and he is feeling friendly. The entire hospital staff was in complete disbelief at how calm Pete had remained throughout the traumatic experience. He explained to them that having a child diagnosed with complex medical issues had thoroughly prepared him for such an event...and if it is possible, I fall even more in love with him.

The hand specialists are waiting in Boston for Pete to arrive. Many of the residents and fellows are visibly shaken by what they see. (Keep in mind, this is a trauma center...so it should give you an idea as to the extent of Pete's finger injury). They call his injury a de-gloving. (gross, I know).

The hand specialist is a strong confident woman maybe 5 feet tall. They discuss Pete's options and both agree that there is extensive nerve damage to the tip of his finger. She may be able to save his finger tip but he most likely would have no feeling to the top of his digit. In Pete's line of work, this could be a serious hindrance to his ability to perform his job safely. She does however, suggest they try to save his top knuckle and use it as a type of replacement finger tip. It is getting late, so they decide to perform the amputation the following morning.

Now, here in New England, we have not received a significant snow fall for the entire winter, but wouldn't you know, the next morning it was snowing with periods of sleet and freezing rain. Driving conditions were treacherous but I needed to get to Boston (a 30 mile, traffic-congested drive). I suggest to the boys that they stay with a friend of mine. But both of them are adamant, they want to see their daddy.

Pete has his surgery at 7 am while I try to make some travel arrangements to get to him.

In one of my more creative-thinking moments, I called a transportation company called Boston Chauffeur and hire a driver (in a Lincoln town car) to take us to town to pick up Pete.

Weston nearly dropped his teeth as the luxury sedan pulled into our driveway. Both boys sat unusually quiet in the back seat as they enjoyed the smooth, quiet ride. Richard, our driver, was like an angel sent from God to comfort us and drive us safely through dangerous conditions to rescue the brave Pete.

We pick up our patient who is hungry, tired and anxious to get home.

Richard drives us home safely.

We all try to rest but we are overwhelmed by emotion and fatigue.

Today, Pete is resting comfortably but anxious to get back to his old self.

Pete is an incredibally strong and conscientious man. Just one of the reasons why I married this special soul.

In true Pete fashion, he is trying to ignore the fact that he has just sustained a traumatic injury and partial loss of his finger. He simply wishes to carry on.

I am so fortunate to have this kind, strong and brave man in my life. He is our family rock. I would be lost without him.

I must admit I am emotionally shaken up by this experience.

It has been a rough few months for us as a family and we are in need of some rest and rejuvenation.

We need to re-center and find our peace.

Please say a few prayers for a speedy recovery for Pete.

He is a brave and special man.